Hey Kids! Comics!
the coolest thing about Marvel's "Ultimate" line this week
is that each and every issue comes with a built-in acetate
bag on the cover. Perhaps no more than a micron thick, it's
sort of like The Legion of Super-Heroes' trans-suits, though
we haven't yet done any deep space testing.
In truth, I have no idea why Marvel switched cover stock for
the line, but the result may take you aback a bit. Slightly
stronger than cellulose, the stock makes for a nice shiny
look, but may disintegrate if exposed to strong light. Luckily,
this column is written under fluorescents.
that shiny wrapping lies a consistently strong batch of books.
So if these titles do evaporate like a vampire at sunrise,
buying the trade collections won't be so painful.
writer: Greg Rucka
artists: Salvador Larroca and Danny Miki
or so years ago, Stan Lee complained that actually blindfolding
Daredevil as part of his costume would make absolutely no
sense. Which is, of course, why in his one live-action television
appearance (played by Rex Smith), Hollywood gave Daredevil
a mask that had no eye-holes.
worth mentioning this bit of history because Larroca and Miki
pay homage to that outfit in their Ultimate version of the
character. Though we know from the cover that eventually Matt
Murdock will wear the more conventional red costume, he dresses
all in black for an early rooftop rendezvous with crime. And
yes, he wears a blindfold.
he and the girl he has grown to love, Elektra, go to the same
place to avenge the rape of a mutual friend. Elektra gets
there first, barely containing her rage. It's a nice contrast
to the cool assassin the years have built in the Marvel Universe,
and probably much more like the upcoming movie incarnation,
which seems to be the point of this mini-series, after all.
these heroes back in time, Rucka has a chance to build a more
reasonable version of their attraction. Somehow the coincidences
of these two meeting make more sense. While Elektra may have
lost some of her exoticness by becoming a native New Yorker,
she has become a more apt girlfriend for the son of Battling
Jack Murdock, and her descent into the role of hired assassin
may become more tragic.
of Udon Studios' coloring with Miki's inking produces some
stunning results. Each panel feels like a still from an animated
series, lending it life. Of course, if the movie does well,
such a series is only a matter of time.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artists: Mark Bagley and Art Thibert
has Bendis bowed to pop culture expectations and reversed
the order of Peter Parker's romances, he also managed to work
in the recent decree that it's all too much for Mary Jane.
she's only 16 this time around, it works. This isn't a move
that feels like editorial decree; it's a girl being scared
of being scared. She even explains it reasonably. Loving a
superhero would come with a lot of mixed emotions.
Maybe she can work it through, maybe she can't. But at least
she didn't wait until the two had been happily married for
several years to decide that she needs some time to figure
nod to the Lee-Ditko years, the dual Spider-Men storyline
comes down to "Just a Guy," though probably not named Joe.
Much of the Ultimate line has done a good job so far of depicting
superheroes as subject to the same public whimsy as any other
celebrities. Trust is day-by-day, and it remains to be seen
if, even though innocent in the first place, Peter regains
the confidence of the police.
there's Gwen Stacy. The interaction among her, Aunt May, and
Peter feels so real and so awkward. We know Gwen's a better
person than her peers have assumed. Maybe that's just history
talking, but Bendis has a good handle on the concept that
kids can be good but still act pretty obnoxious.
issue we get to meet Ultimate Venom, and somehow I get the
feeling that Bendis will get me to actually like the character.
Though I treasure my talking Venom figure that threatens to
eat my brain, he's long since gone past cool.
writer: Mark Millar
artists: Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend
a shame that The Ultimates is a little behind schedule,
because a few plot elements taken for granted here have not
yet occurred in that book. Clearly, Jan will recover from
the savage beating she took at the hands of Hank Pym. And
the AWOL Captain America will return to lead the Ultimates
against the rising tide of the Magneto Menace (sounds like
an unpublished Doc Savage novel).
of the X-Men? This title leaps directly out of the events
of the most recent issue of Ultimate X-Men, with the
Brotherhood of Mutants having lured The Beast into a sexual
trap involving The Blob (eww and double eww) in order to find
Magneto. It worked, and now life on Earth as we know it is
of this issue takes place from the point of view of Nick Fury
and his howling Ultimates, scrambling to get up to speed as
to just what the heck has happened. The Brotherhood has blown
up the Brooklyn Bridge, and Millar pulls no punches in showing
us the human consequences of such a tragedy. It's the little
touch of a Barney tape that puts it over the edge.
world, we can't escape the victims of violence. And though
he seems to be constantly injecting this view into his comics,
he may be right. The realities of modern life should not allow
us to escape into a fantasy world where monuments blow up
cleanly and casualty-free. Comics are make-believe, but within
these pages, it shouldn't just be a game.
story-wise, this has me involved, though it's still not a
book appropriate for children. The art is decent, but Chris
Bachalo just doesn't feel quite right for this story. He can
draw action, but his pencils are normally a little softer
and more organic than he's allowed to be here. Townsend's
inks add a grittiness that's at odds with Bachalo, and the
penciller seems to have compensated by making everybody into,
coming into this book from either the art of Andy Kubert or
Bryan Hitch may find it jarring. Hopefully, Bachalo will regain
his stride before it becomes annoying.
if you lick the covers, they dissolve just like rice paper